The departure of two key men involved in the Xbox 360 from Microsoft won't cause major changes in the Xbox division, a source close to Microsoft told Kotaku today. But the timing of the next steps for the Xbox brand was a factor.
The source, who was not authorised to speak in any official capacity about Microsoft, explained that Robbie Bach had decided that he couldn't make a long-term commitment to the company. Bach, a 20-plus-year veteran, will step down from running a key company division that includes the Xbox 360 this spring, While Bach may have been able to stick around for a year, he would not have been able to commit to the three or so needed to participate in the planning for whatever comes after Natal and next for the Xbox.
Bach will stick around through the fall, advising a transition which is not expected to have major changes to the Xbox division within Bach's Entertainment and Devices group. That division has fared better of late thanks to strong performance by the Xbox 360, but its MP3-player and phone divisions, responsible for Zune and Windows phone platforms has not come close to the critical and commercial heights of competitors such as Apple and Google.
Xbox 360 sales haven't been monstrous lately. In the US, the PS3 has been inching closer , selling out, no longer taking a drubbing. But that's no indication that there were troubles in Microsoft's Xbox division demanding Bach's ouster, said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. "Xbox sales are roughly flat, but that is a huge accomplishment given that the PS3 and Wii have had price cuts," he said.
Bach will leave Microsoft in the spring and has expressed a desire to do more charity work with the Boys & Girls Club. His other plans are unknown. That's not the case for J Allard, one of the creators of the original Xbox and the man who helped publicly launch the Xbox 360 before stepping out of the spotlight a half decade ago. Allard, our source said, has been telling people in Microsoft that his recent years have been 95 per cent Microsoft and 5 per cent life. While Allard has told people that he won't be jumping to a competitor such as Apple or Google, the source said, he has committed to doing things like running a marathon and snowboarding. Plus, Allard is working with some outdoor fashion folks. And he is tweeting now - about his sneakers, so far.